The Evolution of Chanel

The joy of luxury is the value it holds to you – whether it was given as a gift from someone special, purchased to document a momentous occasion, or a family heirloom passed down through the generations – the value is far more than financial. Whatever the condition your items are in when you send them to us, we understand that the value is far more than the sum of parts.

Follow the journey of an heirloom Chanel that was in need of revival. We worked closely and collaboratively with our client to renew the bag while honouring the original charm. Book a collection to restore the possessions that are special to you.

The Assessment

This Chanel bag was passed down to our client from her grandmother. The stitching pattern and cord detailing make it beautifully unique. While we wanted to renew the appearance, we were conscious of maintaining the original essence of the bag. Fortunately, the white base acts as a blank canvas, meaning the palette of colours to dye it was extensive.

The Approach

Before any colour was added, this bag had a thorough special clean to remove any surface dirt or grease within the leather.

Our restoration team followed by hand mixing colour to match the provided colour reference of raspberry red. The colour was applied onto the leather in light layers and finishing coat was added to protect and preserve the dye. For the cord, we used a different dye composition that would penetrate the cotton. We carefully applied the dye to the cord that surrounded the edges of the bag and was woven into the chain handle. The deep red contrasted beautifully against the rich gold hardware.

Before returning this bag to the client, we wanted to show her that while the leather evenly absorbed colour, the dye absorption in the cord appeared uneven. As it had been cleaned and dirtied over the years, the original colour of the cord was already varied. Since dye is transparent, this variation in original colour will still be evident after dyeing.

After analysing the bag, our stitching specialists determined it would be possible to replace all cord components. In terms of replacements, the world was our oyster! We brainstormed myriad options with our client – cotton, leather, raffia, contrasting colours, brighter reds, natural colours – but ultimately concluded the twisted cord was an essential part of the bag’s original character. With this, our sourcing experts got to work.

The difficulty in sourcing this cord was getting one piece that could both be attached as piping and go through the chain as the handle. The piping would need a flat attachment that could be stitched onto the bag, but we don’t want the flat attachment to go through the handle. After searching high and low, our experts sourced a beautifully soft cotton cord in a rich red colour. Crucially, this included a flat attachment that we were able to unpick, allowing it to work for both the piping and handle. We showed a sample of this to our client and mimicked what it would look when attached to the bag.

We began by replacing the cord in the chain. We measured the length of cord needed and unpicked the flat attachment by hand. We carefully prized open one link in the chain and removed the old cord before rethreading the new cord. The ends were secured with a piece of leather.

Our stitching team had to open up the entire bag in order to replace the piping. After edges had been unpicked, the bag had to be turned inside-out to access areas to stitch. We had to be very careful in this process, as the age of the leather can make it prone to cracking. With the old piping removed, the new piping was stitched into place in between panels on the interior. After the panels were closed back up and a row of stitching was added to secure the piping on the exterior.

Before this bag could complete it’s revival journey, we re-coloured any areas that had become exposed in the piping attachment process and it went through our thorough quality control process.

The Results

“After years of sitting unused in my closet, The Restory brought my grandmother’s bag back to life. Their amazing atelier was able to maintain all of the traditional elements of a Chanel bag, while also creating something beautiful, modern and totally unique which I am in love with.

It’s a nerve racking thing to decide to completely change the colour of a white bag (from which there’s no turning back!) but it could not have been in safer hands. The process was collaborative, from choosing the dye colour for the bag to the type of material and colour for the piping, so you feel like you are involved in every step and they were always happy to provide an update and an opinion on what they thought would look best. Not only that but the craftsmanship is incredible so I know that the finished product will last for at least another generation!

I can’t thank you all enough for giving this bag a second chance.”

– Kati

Book a collection to transform your most loved items from worn to wonderful. Explore more restorations with our case studies, like this reimagined Chanel bag or restored hole in snakeskin espadrilles. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our case studies delivered directly to your inbox as they go live.

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